In winter, it can be tempting to reach for a mulled wine to ‘warm up’. But drinking in colder weather carries many risks.

Alcohol and cold weather

  • Drinking alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, making you feel a sudden flush of warmth.  This false sensation of warmth is deceptive and could lead you to take fewer precautions against the cold, dress inappropriately for the weather and become vulnerable to hypothermia
  • Snowy or icy winter weather can make the ground slippery underfoot, putting you at greater risk of trips and falls
  • Drinking too much impairs your ability to make decisions. You might miss the last bus home, get lost on your walk home or fall asleep in the snow, causing your body temperature to drop
  • In cold weather, drinking heavily can reduce or delay shivering – the body’s natural attempts to create warmth. This means that you could be unaware of how cold you are and aren’t able to take steps to protect yourself from the cold.

Staying safe in winter

Drinking heavily seriously impairs your ability to stay safe. Even something which seems harmless, such as following your usual route home after going to the pub, can be dangerous if drinking is involved.

According to research from the Royal Lifesaving Society, there were 451 accidental drownings involving alcohol and/or drugs in the UK from 2013-2017, with an average of 90 per year. Of this number, 255 people were walking home under the influence of alcohol.

Protect yourself in cold weather by:

  • Always wrap up warm and dress appropriately for the weather
  • Plan your transport home in advance – don’t walk alone if you’ve been drinking heavily
  • If you are walking home, take a sober friend with you and avoid water
  • Pace your drinking through the night and alternate with soft drinks